In an Automated Manufacturing World, Cyber Attack is a Growing Risk

Here’s the thing about Artificial Intelligence; it takes away human thinking, instinct and judgement, replacing it with an algorithm, strings of code which mimic human actions and thought processes. In some ways that makes AI more reliable, predictable and of course very useful when it comes to completing repetitive tasks with a high degree of accuracy.

But in the modern world of manufacturing the increasing use of AI and automated systems, makes companies and even nations, vulnersable to cyber attack. Banking systems can be frozen, factories shut down, or cargo ships carrying food supplies diverted off course. AIG has published the results of a survey, looking at the cyber threat in the manufacturing sector and found some interesting trends;

Nearly half of manufacturers have been the victim of cyber-crime, and a quarter have suffered some financial loss or disruption to business as a result.

The manufacturing sector is the third most targeted for attack, with only government systems and finance more vulnerable. Yet manufacturing – which has 2.6 million employees, provides 10 per cent of UK output and 70 per cent of business research and
development – is amongst the least protected sector against cybercrime in Britain.

The new report, Cyber-Security for Manufacturing, published by EEF ( manufacturers’ organisation), with AIG and carried out by The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), pinpointed the susceptibility of manufacturers to cyber risk, revealing that 41 per cent of companies do not believe they have access to enough information to even assess their true cyber risk. And 45 per cent do not feel that they do not have access to the right tools for the job.

Moreover, a worryingly large 12 per cent of manufacturers admit they have no technical or managerial processes in place to even to start assessing the real risk.

Commenting Stephen Phipson, CEO of EEF, The manufacturers’ organisation said:
“More and more companies are at risk of attack and manufacturers urgently need to take steps to protect themselves against this burgeoning threat.

“We know businesses cannot afford to ignore this issue any longer and while we welcome government’s progress in improving cybersecurity resilience, to date through the work of the NCA and NCSC, there needs to be an increasing focus given to the specific needs of manufacturing, which hitherto has been lacking.”

Romaney O’Malley, Head of UK Regions & Head of Industrials at
AIG Europe added:

“For many manufacturers, cyber risk is still not considered a principal risk on the risk register. Nevertheless, the cyber threat landscape has evolved over the last year, with attacks becoming more sophisticated and more broadly disruptive. There is an increasing level of state sponsored attacks between nation states, where companies infected by malware may just be collateral damage. The potential threat from
cyber-crime is widespread.”

The report urges companies to begin a programme of continuous assessment of which people, information and technologies are critical to their organisation and undertake real-time scenario planning to map out the consequences of a cyber-security infrastructure or data breach. More and more customers are demanding cyber security guarantees from their suppliers.

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